Monthly One-Off Recap: Fantasy AGE

This post is written by the GM of our Fantasy AGE one-off, Riley Horn! GRR6001_450_d9ffbea6-fda4-4ef0-b275-a8521e0bd371_1024x1024


I always struggle with the first line of writing any post. I tend to type, delete, type, delete, until I find the exact words that make perfect sense.

So last night I had the chance to GM a Fantasy Age game by Green Ronin Publishing. It had been a while since I GMed so I felt a little awkward doing it. I am still new when it comes to Fantasy Age, but the rule system allows for easy play which is nice, and it’s simple to figure out.

The first of two challenges I found is the use of stunt tables. It is supposed to speed up game play and bring a flair of excitement to the table. I found it a little clunky and slows down combat. I think of the stunts were simpler it would really help to smooth out the process of using them.

The other challenge I found is more of a personal thing, I like to have a lot of variety to choose from when it comes to monsters and creatures in general. In the back of the rule book there are some, but not enough for my taste.

The supplements that Green Ronin makes are great additions, but to me still leave a little lacking in what I wanted to pit my players against. Overall running the game was a good experience and playing Fantasy Age periodically is something I will continue to do, but it hasn’t won a place as my favorite RPG to play, or run.


 

This blog has already reviewed Fantasy AGE (click HERE).

Thanks Riley for the one-off and the write up!

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RPG Retrospective: Dark Ages: Vampire from White Wolf Publishing

2676This is the first post in a series of post I’m titled (unimaginatively) “RPG Retrospective”. I’m a fairly young guy when you compare my age to the history and length of RPGs (I’m less than 30, where as oD&D was published in 1974), which means I’ve really only been playing RPGs for about 15 of the 41 years they’ve been around.

The goal of these posts is for me to dive into historical RPGs (ie. ones that I never played or missed due to age/etc), and try to understand and study them. I’ve played some of ’em, and I will play more of ’em, but I’m gonna start with the one I’ve ran the most, Dark Ages: Vampire.


 

So, my first true exposure to the World of Darkness was the “new” World of Darkness game Vampire: The Requiem, and I was exposed to it through a friend who wanted to run Mage: The Awakening. I was 18, impressionable, away from home at college for the first time, and V:tR scratched an itch I didn’t even know I had. It was a pretty great time for me. About a year later, a co-worker was offloading a bunch of RPGs they didn’t play anymore, and offered them to me for a great deal.

The copy of Dark Ages was shrink-wrapped, and I didn’t get a chance to play it until my friends Jeremy and Ken convinced me to open it late one night at Dragon’s Keep and run it (having never read any oWoD materials). We made characters and started playing at like 10 pm, and come 4 am, we were still going strong on our first session (with me learning the rules as I went). I fell in love.

That campaign ran for a bit, traversing 1100’s Europe until we invited some new players who wanted in, and the game sorta…fell apart. In a giant flaming cluster of a mess frankly. I wasn’t GM capable for that game.


 

Dark Ages: Vampire deals with the medieval machinations of 11 clans of Vampires in Europe, North Africa, the Holy Land, and Eastern Russia/Europe. It’s dark, and gothic, and a product that stands on it’s own, in the best way.

The ruleset is dated. There are poorly written points, and unbalanced mechanics (screw celerity), and the fiction is dark and deliberate throughout the book.

It’s a White Wolf production through and through, and it shows. However, I love it. I wouldn’t change a damn thing (except Celerity, ugh), and I’d run it again in a heartbeat. Dark Ages: Vampire and by extension games inspired/similar to it were a huge inspiration to me in my design, and I didn’t realize it until almost 8 years later.

8 years. Wow.

I consider Dark Ages: Vampire the pinnacle of White Wolf gaming for me, and I intend to pick up the 20th Anniversary Edition (which somehow I missed?) as soon as possible and get down to gaming with it again.

 

 

In Praise of ABC’s Galavant

galavant-poster-fullGalavant is ABC’s musical comedy that airs over a 4 week period. I watched last year when it came out, as light-hearted, and comedic fantasy TV is rare and doesn’t come up often.

I absolutely fell in love. It’s a wonderfully comedic blend of Monty Python, Mel Brooks and Disney, and if that doesn’t sound like something deserves your immediate attention, i don’t think I can’t help you.

But I’m gonna try.

It was hands down the best thing I saw on TV all year. The story is pretty basic at the very start, but I can have you just watch the intro. Don’t worry. I’ll wait.

That’s not even the best song. Somehow I missed the the premiere of the second season (I still haven’t forgiven myself), probably because Galvant’s original renewal was probably the surprise of television for me as it’s ratings were…mediocore. But Galavant is everything that is right with fantasy, music, and enthusiasm for the arts in a single 21 minute package delivered twice a week.

If it’s not absolutely clear to anyone, I’m a huge fan of fantasy. I play roleplaying games, I read fantasy novels, and this blog is called The Last Paladin. I don’t know how else to telegraph my love of fantasy to the world.

What Galavant is, is a fresh breath of air in a stale, grim and hard era of fantasy. It takes all the ideas that make up shows like Game of Thrones, and turns them into rousing musical numbers, witty one-liners, and delightfully cliche tropes that breathe new life into a genre that was desperate for something like this.

Every half hour episode has three musical numbers, and brilliant guest stars abound at every corner.

The second season did the right step, and instead of simply following the same old song and dance (I’m not even sorry I did that), it takes bold forays into new territories. Zombies, expertly executed spoofs of famous musicals like Grease, West Side Story (Dwarves vs Giants, anyone?), and Menken’s work on Disney and others, resound throughout. Even those in the cast who can’t carry a tune as well as others get their songs, and they’re positively brimming with enthusiasm.

The passion and joy of the cast carries through in the show, and when the first episode of the second season opens, the tongue in cheek surprise at renewal and joy of being back carries through.

I’m not the only one who feels this way. Galavant has a 100% Rotten Tomatoes rating for the second season, and it’s well deserved.

The last two episodes air this Sunday (on my birthday! Thanks ABC!). While I love shows like Netflix’s Daredevil and Jessica Jones, and of course HBO’s Game of Thrones, Galavant is the only show I will spend this year raving about to everyone.

I look forward to spending Sunday night enjoying the Season 2 finale, and then fervently hoping that ABC will give me one more season to enjoy.

Watch @GalavantABC. You won’t regret it. Buy it on Amazon Video, watch it on Hulu, get it on BluRay, but whatever you do, do yourself the biggest favor you will this year, and binge watch Galavant.

 

 

Game Review: Cash n’ Guns

cash-and-gunsI had the chance to pick up the second edition of Cash n’ Guns at GenCon. So what is Cash n’ Guns?

Aside from flagging this blog and my search history and ensuring the NSA (like they already weren’t) will monitor me, it’s a game about pointing toy foam guns at your friends and taking their fake money.

How you ask? While, the Godfather, counts to three, and then all mayhem breaks loose as everyone is pointing toy guns at everyone else.

It’s sort of like someone turned a Coen movie into a board game.

And it’s fantastic. The ruleset is simple, fun, and dynamic, without being one-sided or antagonistic (surprising, right?). Anyone can play it, and learn it in a matter of minutes (probably 1, but I’ll give some leeway).

For 40$, it was a purchase I will never regret. Even if the NSA does start watching me closely.

 

Film Review: Sin City 2

sin-city-2-joseph-gordon-levitt-posterSo, as anyone who knows me knows, I love film noir. That love extends to neo-noir film. I mean, crap, I even loved The Spirit. It’s hard to go wrong by me with noir.

Way to go, Rodriguez and Miller. Bunch of jerks figured out how to make me actively dislike a noir film.

The movie was visually stunning, as I expected. And I really liked the plot structure of the stories they told. The plot a, plot b, plot c, wrap up c, wrap up b, wrap up a, was an excellent and different narrative structure.

But. The dialogue felt cliche, forced and worn. It lacked the uniqueness and pop of the first one. The acting was forced and several of the characters were wooden and empty. The stories were generic and cliched and I really just found myself losing interest several times throughout the movie.

Frankly, I will buy it. Mostly to complete my noir collection of films, but I doubt I’ll ever watch it again. It wasn’t a pleasant experience.

Rating: 2/10

Film Review: Guardians of the Galaxy

guardians-of-the-galaxy-poster-high-resSo.

 

This movie came out Thursday night. Within twelve hours of it coming out, I’d seen it twice.

This is the best movie ever made.

I saw this as a huge Captain America fan, who consistently decries anyone who disagrees with me on that topic. And don’t get me wrong, my opinions of the Captain America stand-alone films are not diminished. Rather, I had no idea a movie that felt like this could be made. Frankly, I imagine my feelings in the theater as the opening title danced on screen were similar to the first viewings of Star Wars: A New Hope on the big screen.

I could rave on and on about the action, and the dialogue, and the special effects, and the in-Universe references, and the soundtrack, and the score, and the acting, but I won’t.

It was awesome. I’ll see it again. And again. And then I’ll buy it.  I don’t have any better words to describe this movie. I felt like a kid, who had been given the worlds greatest present.

And Marvel now has a line of credit with me that will last them several bad movies. Several.

Fiction Review: Skin Game

I just fskingame_lginished reading Skin Game, the latest book in the Dresden Files series. Can I just say wow? Seriously.

I had an initial love hate relationship with the Dresden Files. I loved the humor and the concept, but it felt so much like a rip from the pages of Mage: The Awakening that I could hardly handle it. So I never got very far. I remember one night being out of books to read, so I powered through Storm Front and Fool Moon in one evening.

Didn’t look back after that. All I can say is that Skin Game is Butcher at the top tier of his writing abilities. After Proven Guilty, I felt like Butcher slacked off on maintaining his mythos. I know some other readers have agreed. The giant reset button he hit there was fairly irritating and made the later books less enjoyable for me. I mean, when was the last time the Black Council came up? Or the Grey Council?

Skin Game fixed that. I was elated to see old characters I’d missed returning to the fold. The return of Michael as a moral compass for Dresden was welcome. Michael has always been one of my favorite characters in the stories and I was elated to see him take an active role again though Skin Game. I would hate to spoil the book and so I won’t, but the last 100 pages of the story were fantastic, and really drove the conclusion home and reinvigorated the series after the slump I’d felt it was in. If you like the Dresden Files, you’ll love this book. If you haven’t read them yet, what are you waiting for? There’s 14 books for you to catch up with, and I bet you’ll love every one.